Historian slams Germany for ignoring anti-semitism

German-Jew Dr. Julius H. Schoeps accuses the Bundestag of shelving report documenting Jew-hatred in the country.

Bundestag 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch)
Bundestag 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch)
BERLIN – Dr. Julius H. Schoeps, a distinguished German- Jewish historian and a member of the Interior Ministry’s commission to fight anti-Semitism, accused last week the majority of Bundestag deputies of not understanding Jew-hatred and the importance of a regular legislative report on German anti-Semitism.
“Cluelessness” ran the headline of Schoeps’s essay about the German deputies attitudes toward dealing with anti-Semitism on the front page of the main German Jewish newspaper Jüdische Allgemeine.
“There are anti-Semites” among the legislators, he said, citing anti-Jewish comments from parliamentarians in connection with the recent public debate about whether circumcision should be legal in the country.
Marlene Rupprecht, a Social Democratic deputy and chairwoman of the party’s children’s platform, said about the anti-circumcision movement in Germany, “It can’t be dealt with by saying, ‘We had the Holocaust and therefore we are not allowed to criticize [Jews] for centuries.’” Lala Süsskind, a former head of Berlin’s Jewish community, slammed Rupprecht for “dumb” comments.
Bundestag deputies debated earlier this month the findings of the Interior Ministry report “Anti-Semitism in Germany,” and whether the commission should continue to function and additional reports should be prepared.
In 2008, the Bundestag approved a resolution to establish the nine-member commission, which went into effect in 2009. The panel of experts falls under the umbrella of the Interior Ministry.
Sacha Stawski, who heads the pro-Israel NGO Honestly Concerned in Frankfurt, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday, “The criticism voiced by Julius Schoeps is right on point.”
“When we – a network of NGOs – fought for the first report, we never expected that a report would be the ultimate solution to combatting anti-Semitism in Germany,” Stawski said.
“We intended to create a tool by which we could hold the Bundestag accountable for documenting this terrible phenomenon in all its different forms – no matter whether from the Right, the Left, Islamist or anti-Zionist; a phenomenon unfortunately prevalent among all levels of society,” he said.
The report found that 15 percent of the German population is anti-Semitic and more than 20 percent express “latent anti-Semitism,” according to Schoeps.
Critics, however, see major gaps in the document, including playing down the severity of contemporary German anti-Semitism.
Dr. Clemens Heni, who is not a member of the commission and has published several books on modern German anti-Semitism, criticized sections of the report for failing to examine “anti-Israel media coverage in Spiegel-Online or on the television news show Tagesschau.”
The report failed to cite the “anti-Israel Bundestag resolution from July 1, 2010” singling out Israel’s seizure of the Turkish-owned vessel Mavi Marmara, and the ship’s attempt to break the naval blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza strip,” Heni wrote.
Two current Bundestag deputies from the Left Party, Annette Groth and Inge Höger, were aboard the Mavi Marmara. The Bundestag voted unanimously to blame Israel for the Gaza flotilla events.
Stawski said that “while most Bundestag members have an easy time decrying concrete anti-Semitic attacks, few understand or want to understand the depth of the problem and thus the importance of going beyond empty, meaningless declarations decrying anti-Semitism. This task needs financing, manpower and a lot of hard work in close cooperation with civil society/NGOs, who understand the problems.”
Schoeps cited three deputies of the 620 in the Bundestag in his essay as having grasped the importance of the commission’s work: Wolfgang Thierse from the Social Democrats, Petra Pau of the Left Party, and Voker Beck who represents the Green Party.
The Bundestag debate about the report and the commission suggested that the vast majority of deputies believe the fight against anti-Semitism should be the job of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Schoeps wrote. He sees the political view in the Bundestag as the main problem, saying anti-Semitism is a societal problem affecting non-Jews – with grave implications for Jews — and needs to be tackled by Germany’s non-Jewish civil society.